Here's how America's biggest companies have spent their cash since 1999

In a note to clients, Goldman’s David Kostin breaks down how S&P 500 companies are spending their cash.

All spending falls into one of these five categories:

  1. Share buybacks
  2. Dividends
  3. Acquisitions;
  4. Research and development
  5. Capital expenditures.

A few things are clear from this chart.

First, buyback spending has been exploding higher and dividends are at the highest level since 2009.

Also, while capital expenditures have been rising on a gross basis, they are still below early 2000s levels as a percentage of corporate spending.

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